PARENTS

Mothers Who Return To Work 'Do No Damage To Their Babies'

27/12/2010 22:24 | Updated 22 May 2015

Good news for working mothers: going back to work while your baby is still under a year old does no harm to his wellbeing, according to a new study.

Researchers from the US have examined the impact of a mother going back to work on a child's mental and social development, and have found that, overall, the positives cancel out the negatives.

This is in stark contrast to previous research, which has suggested that mothers who return to work put their children at risk of emotional damage and poor academic performance in later life.

The study, carried out at Columbia University, tracked more than 1,000 infants from birth to age seven.

It found that although babies brought up by mothers who resumed full-time work tended to do worse in ability tests at nursery and primary school, these negative effects were counter-balanced when the benefits of having a job, such as higher earnings, were taken into account.

These 'indirect' benefits aided children's development, balancing the downsides of full-time work, the researchers said.

And the study says that youngsters' prospects are significantly improved if mothers work part-time – up to 30 hours a week – during the first year.

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